Looking Forward to NAISAC 2016

19 02 2016

It is amazing how time flies! Beyond the usual work and schedule, I have spent the past several months working in the Maker Space and Online Community for this year’s NAIS Annual Conference. Yes, I do sleep but I find time between winks to work on these fun projects. As I finally made my way back to here (my blog), I was shocked to see that my last post was a year ago as I was preparing to head to Boston for the conference. My blog feels so neglected. This was a shocker for me as my blog has been an outlet for me to think out loud and write freely about virtually any aspect of education, learning, or my experiences. I guess this is a reminder for me that writing is a part of my life I would like to reclaim. Therefore, I hope that I will do better this year managing my time for all the things I find important which includes finding my voice again.

As I make the final preparations for all I will be doing at the NAIS Annual Conference in San Francisco, I also find myself reflecting on what I hope to see and experience this year. This will be one of my busiest years at the Annual Conference so not surprising, most of my reflections seem to be centered around these activities. So, here we go…

  1. I look forward to connecting in person with many of my colleagues I see only once a year. While technology can keep us connected virtually, it is not a replacement for great conversation over dinner.
  2. The new directions for the Innovation Taskforce is exciting. I love the idea of starting this work with an Innovation Day. There are so many possibilities for the work we will be doing. Having clear meaning and purpose for the group and the opportunity to continue to work with such a great group of collaborators from across the country. I am humbled to be a member of this group.
  3. High School Survey of Student Engagement or HSSSE has become something more than a little project I worked on at our school. While our school has participate in the HSSSE several times, we only recently decided to take a deep dive into the data- both quantitative and qualitative. Little did I know at the time that this work would become interesting to many outside the school. I am looking forward to the many different types of conversations that will arise out of the three opportunities I will have to share the Greenhill HSSSE research story. I have been amazed at how much data schools have at their fingertips. Data that could help inform programs and direction if we only took a serious look. I hope to learn of others who are also interested in formally informing their practices through detailed exploration of the data relevant to their experiences.
  4. This is the second year for the Interactive Makerspace at NAIS and the third time I have set up this type of program for NAIS. This has been exciting work and I have met some amazing people, albeit virtually, through this process. I am looking forward to working with these amazing educators over the next couple of days as we bring the NAIS Interactive Makerspace to life. It is my hope that it will stimulate conversations that reach far beyond the buildings, spaces and tools. I hope for conversations that explore the power of authentic problem solving combined with student constructed artifacts of understanding. I am looking forward to serious conversations about how pedagogy needs to shift if the work is to be meaningful. How it shifts should be an amazing conversation. I am also looking forward to hearing the stories of other educators as they explore this world of making.
  5. I have been running the annual conference online community for NAIS now for over 7 years. As I was setting up for this year, I had a chance to take a quick look back at the communities of prior years and reflect on the journey we have been on as Independent schools. In many ways, this is our story captured in bits and bytes frozen in time on the Internet. Each year, I create a new space for the conference and bring it to life by connecting it with the amazing people of this community. As the conference passes, we collect reflections and experiences all shared with a larger community. However, as time passes, the conversations move back to their normal spaces on the web and the online community fades away for another year. This ebb and flow is what makes this such an exciting project. This year I am joined by multiple contributing authors to the community site but also by all that is shared around the conference. I am looking forward to some amazing stories being captured this year as we share what we learn over the course of the next week.
  6. Finally, I am looking forward to a new experience as I participate in a SPARKplaces at the end of this year’s conference. This sounds like an amazing opportunity to explore new possibilities for learning spaces. The timing of this could not be better as we are looking at major changes to some of our existing spaces at Greenhill. I am excited about the possibilities and all I will learn through this experience.

So, with my HSSSE presentations complete and ready to share with the world, the online community coming to life, the Makerspace about to popup in the Moscone Center exhibit hall, Innovation Day about to kick off, and a race to innovative learning environments right around the corner, it is time to pack my bags and head to San Francisco. I will arrive on Tuesday and can’t wait to get this party started.


What do you mean by 21st century skills/learning/schools?

26 02 2014

There is a lot of talk about 21st century skills and what we should be teaching to make sure our students are prepared with the right skill set to succeed in today’s world. Any practitioner conference you attend today will have many sessions that will address the idea of teaching 21st century skills. NAISAC14 is off and running and there are sessions that are looking at 21st century skills/learning/school. From social media with blogs, wikis and Twitter, to Maker Sessions to philosophical sessions, it seems many are trying to explain what and how we need to be teaching today. With that being said, what do we all mean when we are talking about 21st century skills, 21st century learning and 21st century schools?

I hope you will take a moment to complete this short, simple and open-ended survey to define these terms in your own words. What do you mean when you talk about 21st century skills, 21st century learning and 21st century schools? What do you hear when you hear others talk about these terms? The results of this survey are public so please consider participating and adding to our broader understanding as a community. Please feel free to pass this around to any and all. This is a conversation that moves far beyond the teachers in the classroom and the administrators at the school. Parents and students also have an understanding of these terms. What is everyone saying and what are we hearing when we use these terms?

You can access the survey at: What do you mean by 21st century skills/learning/schools? OR use the form below.

You can view the responses at: What do yo mean by 21st century skills/learning/schools? [RESPONSES]

Blogging to “Learn How To Learn”- Join us!

2 03 2012

Friday 11:30-12:30

Room 4C-4

Exploring the world of metacognitive blogging or Thinking About Thinking as a way for students to discover their own learning process. This iterative approach to reflection is a powerful way to help students improve their understanding of how they learn. Analyze the science behind metacognition and how it can be used in your school through reflective blogging. Plus, we’ll cover recent research findings and specific examples from K-12 and beyond.

This session is interactive and personal as you journey into the world of Blogging to Learn How to Learn. The session will provide a basic background to metacognition and the importance of reflection as a unifying process of self-regulation for learning. You will also be asked to join in several experiences in which you will learn new things about your self through the process of iterative reflection. So, please join me today at the NAIS Annual Conference in Room 4C-4 from 11:30 to 12:30.

Opening Session at NAIS AC 2012 with Bill Gates

1 03 2012

The session opened with a wonderful performance by the Northwest School a cappella choir. The song of peace was a wonderful way to open the 2012 NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle. The voices of the youth expressing their dream for a day when there would be no war.

This was followed by a high energy song featuring duets accompanied by the group-“Singing Soul to soul, brother to brother, that a cappella sounds good to me…” Rousing applause and a standing ovation followed. What a wonderful group of kids demonstrating the power of message wrapped in song.

During transition, a wonderful media production illustrating the tenets of the theme INNOVATION: Imagine, Invent, Inspire, Dream. I am reminded by the first part of the presentation about a wonderful book I read recently that has a lot to say about innovation. Check out Six Great Scientists by Crowther. This book chronicles the path of innovation of six scientists from several centuries: The life and innovation of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Curie and Einstein.

Pat Bassett takes the stage with thank you announcements out to all involved in this year’s conference followed by an interesting logo by the “Department of Innovation” Do you see anything wrong with this logo?

Yes, the cogs are locked. Schools locked in the past would be like this logo, an impossible situation that locks out innovation.

Pat challenges us by sharing an image of school in 1088 AD. What does your school look like? How different is your school from this image? What can you do to transform your school? Pat shared several images of school architects as innovators with net zero use of water and energy, living walls and a cool river through the building as a way of connecting the outside with the inside. This is an indication of the importance of place and space as an agent in learning

Pat also shared how a teacher took a few items and some free software to design and build what is now called the Cushings iClass Table.

Video of Cushing’s iClass Table

10 Promising innovations for education

  1. Adopting backward design and mapping curriculum around skills rather than subjects- the 6 Cs: Character, critical thinking collaboration, communication, creativity and cosmopolitanism/ cross cultural competency.
  2. Documenting student outcomes via formative assessment and demonstrations of learning- Capture in ps-12 schools over 13 years via digital portfolios
  3. Connecting appreciative inquiry, the strengths approach and growth mindsets- All subsets of the positivist psychology movement.
  4. Globalizing independent schools
  5. Stage II greening of independent schools
  6. STEM and beyond signature programming- robotics, Rube Goldberg and inventors competitions etc
  7. Professionalizing the profession- rotating schedules to free groups of faculty researchers, online PLS
  8. Public purpose of private education initiatives
  9. Online learning consortia for independent school branded courses
  10. Design Thinking- Incorporating MIT and Stanford Design Lab ideas

Pat Bassett quoting Bill Gates…

“Innovation is the means and equity is the end goal” from the 2012 Annual Letter Gates

Bill Gates was introduced by Bernie Noe as he related stories of the time when Bill was at Lakeside School in Seattle, his early days at Microsoft and his transition to philanthropy to save lives by focusing on what they could do to help those most affected by rotavirus. A focus on how to make the lives better for those who have the odds stacked against them…And now Bill Gates

Bill presented a talk on Fulfilling Technology’s promise to education: How much can technology help us teach and learn.

Bill opened with the wonderful NAIS education he received at Lakeside and how it was the only diploma he really needed- lots of laughter here as he shared a picture of his high school graduation. This is the only time Bill graduated. As Bill and Melinda focused on where to take their foundation, they wanted to help other students have a quality education as well. Bill took us back to his past education, colored chalk and a traditional approach. Now move to today, the formal approach to teaching has not changed much. Bill feels that technology will be a large player in this transformation.

What is a good learning environment? Bill offers One to One as one great option. Think of Yoda and Luke. Luke looks bored, Yoda changes his approach, changes challenge. But since we can’t all have lessons with Yoda, what role can technology play in bringing in a Yoda-ish approach to today’s classrooms? What if you could have a wealth of concepts available as you teach providing elements of student choice as they approach their learning, providing choices that teachers can use to match the students needs?

Bill sees a lot of promise in the use of technology for providing opportunities. He shared a simple graph of the trend of online learning in the US for K-12 students from 2000 to 2009.

How does online compare to face-to-face learning? However, this is not definitive as you must account for teaching styles, methods and the way the courses are constructed. Bill also shared a graph of growth in online learning as indicated by increased investment. From the survey about Online courses conducted by NAIS, the bulk of online courses were developed at the teacher level and then by the director of technology. Now consider the background of your technology director. This is an indication that our technology directors must now have expertise in pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning in complex connected environments.

Four areas of focus for technology in education

  1. Re-imagining textbooks- Textbooks must change to become interactive. Gone will be the days of static texts that we carry in heavy backpacks
  2. Scaling our best teachers through materials provided by experts
  3. Connecting through social networks- connecting students to students, teachers to teachers and learners to experts through various social media
  4. Personalizing learning- This is a place where the a system indicates new paths for an indiviaul student to take based on

The following sites were mentioned in a video shared by Bill. Each of these can be mapped back to one of the four aspect shared on the shifts stemming from increased use of technology in education.

Another advantage with technology is that it can also help increase the amount of time a student spends on manipulating content.

What about online schools? There was a callout to the Global Online Academy– 16 schools teaching 19 courses across the country. The courses are taught on Haiku and include a variety of topics including a course on 911.

So, with all that is available today, what is holding schools back? Not every student has access to the technology and not every student has Internet access when they get home. We need a format for reading online that is easy and accessible. We need to give teachers time to catch up and learn what other teachers are doing. We need to do comparison studies to make sure that we don’t increase the divide between students who do well and those who struggle. Additionally, The CORE Curriculum is trying to map standards based on the core curriculum. Looking ahead to the future 10 years. This is really a very short amount of time. Independent schools have a unique role to play in this by the nature of our independence. So how do we build the school of the future?

Bill Gates will now take your questions

What skills do you feel our students will need entering the job sector today?

While you can go online today to get information, not all of it is good information. Students need to be able to use new techniques to get information but also to determine the quality of the information. During school, you are used to being confused but many adults are stuck in a mode of “I know what I know” and never get around to learning what they didn’t get when they were in school. Now you can go online and fill in some of these gaps.

What are the implications of your vision of technology for education on band-width?
This is significant. You will need more bandwidth. The good news is that this is really a low cost of your overall technology budget. This however is related to location to urban areas.

How do you get parents and teachers on-board with new ways of working?
This is a big challenge as there are so many constituencies. Example: Parents know how they were taught the subject and this becomes a challenge as they generally don’t have any experience in learning in this new way. They know what worked for them. The process will likely be two steps forward and one step backward: A) Plan ahead, B) Give teachers who are open to the change full opportunity to move ahead. The students will follow along. There is a lot of resistance to change. Education has been done the same way for a long time. You need to pick your early adopters and work with them. This will help bring others along.

What can educators do to bring about a shift in publishing from paper to electronic?
There are many classes taught without a textbook. However, we need hard data on this. Open CK12 has some good books but you have to make sure you students have the device. Devices break and that is another factor that must be considered. You won’t save that much money with the new online texts as there will be new costs.

What is the value of the human connection in a technology infused education?
Personal interaction is very important and there are many aspects that can’t be replaced. However, technology is getting better. Bill tells how he now usually meets his daughter’s boyfriends online as they Skype and in fact, the parents are now meeting each other online before they meet face to face.